Main Plot Arc

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Design principle: The fantastic setting highlights the similarities between TwinWorld and the one familiar to the audience.

Plot Lines

Main Plot: Oswald

Premise: The youngest of four brothers overcomes his apathy and kills a dragon that has overcome his siblings.

Oswald is lazy, content to drift through life on talent. After his brothers discover an alternate universe, he tags along on a few adventures. When one of them is killed, he is moved to action. Some sinister force is bent not only on destroying his family, but controlling all of Twin World. He eventually tires of the intrigue and returns to Hozz, living a life of ease. Years later, Merril arrives with news that his other two brothers have also recently died. By piecing together the events that lead up to his brother's demise, and with the aid of their surviving friends, he manages to track down the source of the calamity. A Dragon sleeps beneath the Great Tree, his plots entwined in every facet of Twin World. Gathering his courage, resources, and allies, Oswald ventures deep into the mind bending depths of the dragon's stronghold. But when he finally penetrates the dragon's lair, the dragon makes him an offer; A life of ease studying the priceless history and powers of the hoard, in exchange for Oswald's friendship. The dragon makes a bid to seduce Oswald with his old vices, and abandon the pointless journey of revenge. Oswald accepts, and lives for many years in the dragon's hoard. Yet, slowly, he uncovers further evidence that the dragon was behind not only his own brother's deaths, but the continual warfare between the Zarth and the Fayrie and many other atrocities. Mourning his lost opportunities, and wasted years, Oswald (now an old man) takes up the Dragon Lance and kills the dragon, now his only friend. The dragon's death throes draw the Turmoil in from the edges of the world, and Oswald dies in the wreck of the hoard as the Great Tree comes crashing down upon them all.

Side Plot: Ziggy

Premise: The oldest of four brothers overcomes his pride and submits to a world that he does not understand.

Ziggy thinks he knows everything about what is best for everyone. Although Oswald discovers TwinWorld, it is Ziggy that makes the first forray. He hears the prophecy and drags his other brothers into TwinWorld. Mis-interpereting the prophecy, he leads the group first to Propitiation, where they participate in planting the new Great Tree. The inhabitants tell them that the old Great Tree must be linked to the new one, and then die, for the new Great Tree to flourish. Ziggy declares that "The HOZZ brothers are prophesied to accomplish the task!" and leads the group, with much pomp, on a journey to the Great Tree. However, when they reach it he is confronted by the full force of the Fay Enchantment and is effortlessly ensorceled by the Fay Queen. Intrigued, the Queen gives him a choice, either admit that his mission was foolish and misguided and go free, or maintain his purpose trapped under her influence. Ziggy refuses to give in. Realizing that he knows nothing of either enchantment, or the politics that dominate the Great Tree, he accosts various Nobles attempting to find aid. Soon he is viewed as no more than a jester in the court. His brothers depart, Hugh to Propitiation, and Oswald with Zack to the House. Ziggy remains, unable to leave the Fay Court. He attempts every ruse and strategy he can muster, either to regain control, or to escape, but all to no effect. Surrendering for a time, he works to comprehend the Fay magic, and slowly bends the Queen's enchantments to siphons many of the linking spells back to the new Great Tree in Propitiation. He also learns of shaping from a group of Dryads (whose groves have been destroyed by the Dragon's schemes), and creates a massive Livewood Hilt from a branch of the Great Tree (Unknowingly offering grave offense to the Fay). Finally, he sees how the Queen was right all along, that his leadership was doomed to fail from the first step. He admits as much to the Queen before the whole court, and the enchantment is broken. Before leaving, however, Ziggy repeats the prophecy he heard on entering TwinWorld, much to the chagrin of the court. The Dragon stirs up the disgust of the Fay against him (for reviving interest in the Prophecy, calling for the fall of the Great Tree, and altering the old enchantments). Ziggy begins the journey back to the House, where he plans to begin again in humility as he should have. As he nears the edge of the Enchanted Forest, he is ambushed by a mob of Fay spurred by his Great Tree livewood artifact, the Nobles ire, and the Dragon's malice. They toy with him as he apologizes for whatever he might have done to upset them. The Fay, beside reason, kill him and disperse. Meril is among his murderers, and takes his journal. The Livewood Hilt he made is left to burst, and his body is quickly claimed by the forest.

Side Plot: Hugh

Premise: A man struggles to properly express real love in the presence of real evil.

Kills evil without remorse. After Ziggy is captured by the Fay he goes to Propitiation and helps them drive off the evil creatures that seem drawn to the place. Finds Meril an evil fay, but refrains from killing her, imprisoning her instead to study. Justifies his actions by seeking out the "ultimate corrupting influence". Stops Zack's army from reaching the Heart of Water, and kills Zack. Wracked by grief, he goes to live on the Horizon. While there, he forges the blade of the Dragon Lance with a Zarth (who was given his tools and station by the Dragon in order to discredit another Zarth). When he travels back to the House, Hugh gives the blade to Meril. Learns of the Dragon Cultists and decides they must be evil. Goes to wipe them out, and is stunned when his evil powers are only very mildly activated in the cultists presence. The cultists defend themselves, and Hugh is gravely injured. The cultists leave him in a cage made from the roots of the Great Tree with a pair of dragon wyrmlings. The wyrmlings burrow into his guts, but their evil keeps him alive. He escapes by linking his life with the roots of the world tree, and wanders the Turmoil in a delirium. After what seems like ages in his time-dialated agony Zack comes to him, dominates and removes the dragons, and heals him (though Hugh does not recognize him). After resting at Cloud 8, he returns to the House of HOZZ. There is a letter waiting for him, calling him to testify in Merrils case in a Zarth court. Hugh travels to Anglestruct where he challenges the judge to combat for the case. Without his powers, it is a close fight, but he emerges victorious. He takes Merril back to the house of Hozz and lives happily there several years. While he is away, the Dragon incites the Zarth against him (in order to restore the former judge to power, as he was a key player in the Dragon's schemes). He is held trial for using his supernatural powers to corrupt justice. Unable to justify his past actions even to himself, he pleads guilty, and is executed. As he dies, the life link he established with the Great Tree shatters the roots, causing the Great Tree to shudder and list dangerously to the side.

Side Plot: Zack

Premise: A man gains power over others, but surrenders it for the beauty of freedom. See Litch for more details on his rise and fall.

Zack gains powers to control and re-animate others. His experiments grow more foul, and when he reaches Twin World he begins raising an army. He rules the Garden of Life, but his brothers become suspicious of his activities. When Ziggy is killed, Zack travels to the spot of the murder, hoping to reanimate the corpse. He is disappointed to find only the "burst" Livewood hilt remaining. He takes the sprouted hilt with him, as it reminds him of the Lindora he has been working on controlling. He succeeds in partially re-animating the livewood, and carries it with him as a sprouted staff. Soon, his army is complete. When he attempts to corrupt the Heart of Water, his intentions and true nature are made clear. Hugh hunts down his philactery, and then kills Zack and tosses his body into the Heart of Water. There Zack Meets Tanodia and is reborn as a healer. He helps to heal the victims of the army he led to conquer the Heart of Water, and in doing so befriends many from Propitiation. Traveling to Propitiation, he heals many others and hears of the terrors that they have suffered. He lives for a while in Propitiation, healing the wounded from their battles. Merril finds him there. Convinced (by the Dragon's circuitous dreams) that he is still evil, she stabs him through the heart with the Dragon Blade, which Zack partially blocks with the undead hilt-staff. The healing water from Zack's heart fuses the blade and hilt, and gives the weapon a life of its own. When he hears from Merril that Hugh has been wounded, he sets off into the Tumult along with a few crafty Zarth. After many hardships, they locate Hugh. Zack heals him and leaves him with the Zarth at Cloud 8. He goes on many other adventures, making new companions among the Fay and Zarth. Eventually he hears that Propitiation is being attacked, and returns to help. Unfortunately, as he arrives Propitiation is being overrun by the Zarth/Fay coalition (a friendship spurred by the Dragon's schemes to keep the Old Tree safe). Zack dies as he roams through the battlefield, healing anyone he can. The healing heart that Tanodia gave him beats on, and becomes a healing spring until it is carried off the Horizon and out of memory.

Side Plot: The Dragon

Premise: A shrewd lover of beauty accumulates great wealth, only to have it destroyed when his schemes catch up to him.

The Dragon wants treasure. Over the ages, he has accumulated a huge horde in the roots of the Great Tree. In order to enjoy his treasure in peace, he must make sure he is not discovered, and especially not hunted. To this end he kills all of the other dragons that he can find, and has convinced most of the world that dragons do not exist. He encourages a small (but corrupt) group of Fay and Zarth to hunt any dragons that come up from the Pit, and has connections with the several dragon cults that spring up to worship dragons. The dragon cults seek out and protect any dragons that make it out of the depths, and then send them to The Dragon, presumably to "rule at his side". With these factions fighting each other, and neither aware of his location, he remains safe from the vast majority of creatures. He has heard of the last prophesy, but figures that even if the Great Tree falls, the roots (and his hoard) will remain. He is so practiced at manipulating events that he does it literally in his sleep, his enchanted dreams disturbing and directing whole nations. As Ziggy, Hugh, and Zack interfere with his plans he has them destroyed from afar without a thought. Their youngest brother, Oswald, nearly surprises him in his lair, but the Dragon sees Oswald as just another novelty to add to his collection, and exploits his desire for ease and knowledge to assure his friendship. He continues for many years manipulating and guiding events in an attempt to keep the Old Tree from sliding off of the world. It is with genuine surprise that he finds himself confronted, years later, by a livid Oswald who demands that he move his lair to a new location so that the Old Tree can travel to the Horizon as it should. Unable to give up his home and treasures, The Dragon refuses. Guessing that Oswald intends to unveil him to the world, the Dragon gathers all of his huge hoard into the central chamber, intent on protecting it. Instead, Oswald attacks him suddenly, inflicting many fatal wounds. With his last energy, The Dragon destroys his stronghold intent that, if he may not forever enjoy the beauty he has gathered, then neither may anyone else.

Side Plot: Merril

A badly injured woman finds healing through the love, sacrifice, peace, and knowledge of others.

Hugh's love, Zack's sacrifice, Oswald's peace, and Ziggy's knowledge.

Merril has had a hard life. After her mother died slowly from a wasting fungus, she was set adrift by her distant father. Forced to make her own way she worked her way into the employ of Mogan where she was very ill used. After escaping his clutches she turned to the Fay community, but was spurned for her scars and her past. Driven further and further from Fay society, she sought refuge among the Zarth. They accept her, but are stiff and uncomfortable in her presence, distant like her father. On top of this, their ubiquitous metallic technology is poisonous to her Fay life energy. Finally accepting that she may be forever alone and miserable, she embraces her otherness. Shunning the normal and acceptable, she becomes more and more esoteric and perverse. Traveling back to the surface, she passes through cursed territory close to The Dragon's lair. His dreams become lodged in her being, and effused with his purpose she stirs up a mob of Fay to murder Ziggy. She takes his journal, and begins a tormented debate with the document, writing in the margins. From the journals pages she discovers several secret arts, and she ends up on the outskirts of Propitiation, the harried local fortune teller practicing vampyrism on her customers.

Her evil draws Hugh, and he dares her to give him one good reason to stay his hand. Beyond caring, she pours out her life story, but on hearing it Hugh judges her "harmless and too miserable to kill" and leaves her alive, bound to the House of HOZZ, as worse punishment than death. She attempts to torment Oswald, but is thwarted by his tranquility. Later Hugh returns, wracked by grief and a strange new affection. He gives her the Adamant blade that he has forged as a peace offering, and pledges to attempt her redemption. She draws power from him through her vampyric arts, but her evil fuels his powers and he becomes stronger than ever. Cultists of the Dragon visit one day and Merril plans to kill them for the magic artifacts they posess. Hugh (mistaking Merril's evil for that of the cultists) drives them off and then frees her of the house before leaving to hunt them down. Merril is frustrated that her plan was foiled, yet also impressed by Hugh's loyalty. She resumes her study of Ziggy's journal and returns to her old haunts outside of Propitiation, asking her clients for news of the HOZZ brothers. In this manner she learns not only of Hugh's defeat and apparent death in the Turmoil, but of Zack's return from the dead. Driven by her budding love for Hugh, she takes the blade he gave her and confronts his old foe. She is stunned when Zack not only refuses to retaliate, but immediately begins preperations to find Hugh, and help him if he can. Just before he leaves, Zack uses his healing gift to restore Merril, washing away both the Dragon's subtle hold on her, and her deformity (though the scars remain faintly visible).

She waits in Propitiation, working as a spell weaver, until the first of the attacks are rumored. Fleeing the conflict, she travels to her old friends in Zarthaanc but is arrested on sight for a variety of crimes. When asked to name a witness in her defense, she gives them Hugh's name, and the location of his "home" at the house of HOZZ. While awaiting trial she meets several other Fay, and is able to help them cope with their incarceration. To her surprise, Hugh arrives some time later and frees her through trial by combat. They return together to the House of HOZZ and spend several happy years together. Then Hugh is once again summoned to stand before the Zarth court. Fearing that they will harm Merril, he asks her to stay at the House.

After Hugh leaves, Merril grows restless and sets out for the Great Tree. Her demeanor is so changed that no one recognizes her, and they take her for a newly formed Fay, come from the wilds of the Horizon. She takes up residence in the Great Tree and weaves several powerful charms, as well as strengthening those that Ziggy laid (which she learned about from his journal). When the war-band returns from conquering Propitiation it brings news of Zack's death. At the same time, some of the Zarth in the group mention that Zack's brother, Hugh, was also recently executed. Distraught and fearing for Oswald's life, Merril travels back to the House of Hozz and informs him of the recent events. Oswald comforts her and together they set out to uncover the true nature of The Dragon.

When they reach Propitiation, Merril tells Oswald of the Dragon Lance which has been posing as a sculpture along one of the roads. Oswald takes it with him, but Merril decides to stay in Propitiation. She has learned to be at peace. She weaves spells and gives good advice, while circumspectly maintaining the enchanted link between the new and the old Great Tree. Many years later, she is gratified to see the new Great Tree burst into maturity when the old one collapses into the ruin of The Dragon's hoard. Her aid in the founding of Propitiation is recognized and she becomes one of the ad-hoc Royal Fay of the new Great Tree.

Side Plot: The Oracle

Long ago Tanodia communed with the world. He wrote a rune of truth upon the solidcloud, and the solidcloud took on the form of the Oracle. He wandered long over the surface, branded with the runes of the Maker. When he sat still, or stood, he watched the world, and ate and drank and laughed. But when he walked runes of prophecy would sprang up in his footsteps, portending far off events, subtle truths, and terrible secrets. In time, he learned speech, but is silent as he walks.

For many years the Oracle wandered far, but many read his footsteps aslant, and twisted the prophecies to their own ends. As he saw the dire ill which came from these lies he took to resting for long periods. When he walked, he would walk backwards, reading his own steps and coming to rest again to explain the prophecies to those who would listen. Sadly, even the Oracle had no special power to divine the meaning of his steps. His interpretations were better than most, but far too often led others astray. The meaning of the prophetic runes remained clear only in hindsight.

As the ages wore on, the Oracle's steps foretold the fall of each Great Tree as it sprung up. But as the most recent matured, the Nobles of the Tree decided that this would be the last, the final Great Tree, a refuge to endure for all time. They forbade the Oracle to walk, preventing him from issuing any new prophecies. Their servants carried him on a litter, and his every desire was met. Yet he grew ill at ease, and saw that the Great Tree could not endure forever. He too grew wary of his own death, and resolved to sire children before he passed over the Horizon, as is the fate of all living things.

One day, while sitting on his litter in the Fay Court, Llieah's three caretakers brought her to present to the Fay Queen. Smitten by her beauty, Durand forgot his prohibition and ran across the court to catch Llieah in his arms. His steps spelled out the Last Prophecy for all the Fay Court to see, graven in runes into the Great Tree itself. The Nobles are furious at his betrayal, and cut off his legs, breaking the enchantments which hold both Durand and Llieah. Llieah flies with durand far from the Great Tree, and make their home among the deadly Garden of Life where they live together for many years, during which Llieah bears three sons. Soon after the birth of the third, word gets back to the Nobles that the prophecy is close to being fulfilled. They hire the Zarth to kill Durand and Llieah. Durand wakes one morning to find the rune for "fly for your life" seared into the pillow beneath his head. He and Llieah work a potent spell to open a doorway to Llieah's home, and they step through just as the Zarth approach the house. (see Escape)

Finding themselves on Earth, alone with their three small children, Durand and Llieah start their life once again, settling on the outskirts of a city. Llieah bears one more son. Durand is disturbed to find that the doorway never quite closed behind them, and fearful of what may befall his sons. Yet they live in relative peace for many years.

When his boys are full grown, they go rock climbing with their father. Even though he lacks legs, his arms are strong. However, when he reaches the top of the cliff, the HOZZ brothers are astounded to find strange runes engraved in the cliff face where their father had passed. They ask him what they mean, but he refuses to speculate, though these runes tell the four brothers to return to TwinWorld and fulfill their father's legacy. Years pass, and Durand sees his boys grow listless and lacking in direction. Finally Durand sees that he must either doom his children to a pointless existence, or direct them on the path that will lead to a meaningful life. Resigned to fate, Durand directs the boys subtly to the house where they first entered Earth, and where the magic of the doorway still resides.

After his boys leave, he grieves with Llieah for a while, before asking her to return with him to see what has befallen. They arrive to see the Great Tree falling in the distance, fulfilling the Last Prophecy. Durand and Llieah live in the House of HOZZ until Llieah dies of old age. Then Durand too gives up his life and adds his Fay Dust to the power of the Garden of Life. The roots and stems and leaves of the garden take on the power of the oracle, and for an age those who brave its depths may find runes there which tell of marvelous things.

The Prophecy

"Four paths for four brothers, my sons. Twice spoken. Last to first, from doom to doom, oldest to youngest. In rest, in toil, in love, in confusion, the four paths lie. Together you shall come without will, and apart you shall go by choice and not return. One path runs through wood, one through fire, one through water, one through self. You shall slay your foulest friend. You shall heal your bitterest foe. You shall stand against evil and fall to good. You shall yield to truth and bear falsehood. Together your coming shall shake the Great Tree, and your going shall see it fall. Learn well. Choose well. Act well. Endure well."

Explanation

  • Four paths for four brothers, my sons. The prophecy is given by Durand about his four sons, who (at the time of the prophecy) have not yet been born.
  • Twice said, Last to first, from doom to doom, oldest to youngest. This alternating phrase outlines the order (2x the pattern of: 4,1; interlude; 1,4) in which the prophecy is given. That is 4,3,2,1; (interlude about motivation "from doom"); 1,2,3,4; 4,3,2,1; (interlude about effect "to doom"); 1,2,3,4
  • In rest, in toil, in love, in confusion, the four paths lie. 4,3,2,1: Oswald is in rest, Zack in toil, Hugh in love, Ziggy in confusion.
  • Together you shall come without will, and apart you shall go by choice and not return. (interlude about motivation "from doom"): They are diven to Twin World against their will, but as a group. They leave Twin World by their own choice, each choosing his own good death.
  • One path runs through wood, one through fire, one through water, one through self. 1,2,3,4: Ziggy's purpose deals with the Great Tree, Hugh's purpose deals with the Outer Fire, Zack's purpose deals with the Heart of Water, Oswald's purpose deals with his own motivations.
  • You shall slay your foulest friend. You shall heal your bitterest foe. You shall stand against evil and fall to good. You shall yield to truth and bear falsehood. 4,3,2,1: Oswald slays his foul friend (the Dragon), Zack heals his bitter foe (Hugh), Hugh defeats evil (that thing he does) but is killed by good (the Zarth who bring him to justice), Ziggy submits to truth (the prophecy, and the deep knowledge of Twin World) and bears the falsehood (the Dragon levies lies against him).
  • Together your coming shall shake the Great Tree, and your going shall see it fall. (interlude about effect "to doom"): The return of the children of Durand indeed shakes the social order of the Great Tree, and each of them sees the Great Tree fall in some way. Ziggy lays the linking magic which will siphon the life energy from the old Great Tree to the new one. Hugh severs the anchoring roots of the Great Tree, causing it to fall over. Zack sees Propitiation, the symbolic Great Tree, fall to the Zarth and Fay. Oswald sees the Great Tree literally fall into the Turmoil after he slays the dragon.
  • Learn well. Choose well. Act well. Endure well. 1,2,3,4: Ziggy is to learn. Hugh is to choose. Zack is to act. Oswald is to endure.

Misinterpretation of the Prophecy

Each of the Hozz brothers chooses what he likes best from the prophecy, instead of following his own part. Portrayed here in mono-log form.

  • Ziggy: Huh, I like "Twice spoken" People say, "don't make me say it twice" but maybe that's a good thing. I'll say things twice when I want them to really get it. "One path" Huh? Yeah, we've all got to follow the same path. I say we stick together and go to each of these places one at a time. "wood" is first, so we should get to the Great Tree. Also "yield to truth and bear falsehood" makes sense, we shouldn't be afraid to lie when necessary, as long as we admit it afterwords. Also, "learn well" is the first thing, so we should all be trying to learn as much as we can before we choose anything. Gotta follow the prophecy!
  • Hugh: "Together you shall come without will" means that having a weak will is bad. We have to "stand against evil" like it says, and not be intimidated or confused. It even says "in confusion" but that's got to mean we should watch out for confusion. "Through self" means we can't rely on others, we're in this alone. And hey, Merril is probably my "foulest friend", I've jut got to befriend her enough and then, wham! Slaying evil baby!
  • Zack: This is an awesome prophecy, "doom to doom" and "shake the Great Tree"? Totally sweet! "slay your foulest friend" sounds like a trator though, so we've got to watch out for that. It would be easy to get betrayed with all these crazy creatures around. They might not be as friendly as they seem, and like it says we've got to "Choose well" who our friends are.
  • Oswald: Wow, this is a confusing prophecy. I really like how he said "my sons", I've always felt kind of distant from Dad. "Last to first... oldest to youngest" what does that mean? There's "fire... water" in there, maybe it has to do with the four elements? "heal your bitterest foe" sounds good, we should try to reconcile with our enemies instead of hurt them. I like how it says "in love" too. I don't think we should worry too much about it though, if it's a prophecy, it will come true no matter what we do.

Sets of contrasting points and symbols

The main plot arc involves four major groups

  1. The Hozz Brothers are a group everyman. They spend most of their time working against their ultimate goals through pride, malice, misinformation, or laziness.
  2. The Fayrie are a woman symbol society.
  3. The Zarth are a male symbol society.
  4. The Dragon is a symbol of competent evil. He is playing both sides of pretty much everything and keeps coming out on top.
  5. The Oracle is a symbol of uncomfortable truths that keep coming back until you deal with them.

The long-term history has three sections

  1. The Dragon amasses treasure under the Great Tree, and gets most of the world to think that dragons don't exist, while the rest of the world is terrified of dragons, and tries to kill all the other ones (see this story).
  2. The Oracle is established as accurate and reliable, and then prophesies that his offspring will fell/destroy the Great Tree. He is forced to flee as many decide to try and kill him and his family before this prophesy can come true.
  3. The Hozz brothers fulfill the prophesy, but only after misinterpreting it and failing several times.